Australia, Travel

A Kid-Friendly Guide to Port Stephens

How to Get There

Port Stephens is an easy 2 1/2 hour drive north of Sydney, and is famous for its pristine beaches, nature walks and sprawling sand dunes. It’s the perfect destination for travelling with kids and I know we will be back many times in the future.

Where to Stay

We travelled courtesy of Travel Online and they had 2 family-friendly options in the area, Oaks Nelson Bay and Oaks Port Stephens. While the Nelson Bay location was closer to the action, we couldn’t go past the amazing lagoon pool at the Port Stephens location!

Oaks Port Stephens Pacific Blue Resort

Once we settled on a resort, booking through Travel Online was so easy – we had a selection of rooms from a standard hotel room up to a 2 bedroom apartment with kitchen at the resort (always handy when travelling with kids!)

They also offered us a COVID refund guarantee if our travel plans were impacted by COVID-19 which gave us peace of mind when booking a getaway in these funny times.

Our check-in at the resort was a smooth and quick process, and Zsofia was bounced on the huge king bed in no time at all!

Our room came with a kitchenette which was super helpful for preparing a quick and healthy breakfast each morning, and our room had a little courtyard with table and chairs so we could eat alfresco.

I always try and book a resort with a bath wherever possible as don’t have one at home, and the girl LIVES for baths!

The huge lagoon-style swimming pool is one of the biggest in Australia and wraps around the entire resort, flanked by tropical palm trees. We were blessed with perfect summer weather (take that, La Nina!) and ensured we got a swim in every day of our stay.

What to Do

Swim at the Beach

The Port Stephens area is blessed with countless beaches, some on the bay side which are better for kids, and if you are more of a big wave person, try One Mile Beach! Our favourite place to swim was Shoal Bay, but I recommend avoiding the area closest to the shops as it was full of seaweed. We went up further up the beach (near Anzac Park) and we were treated to gentle waves, crystal blue water, pristine white sands and not many people!


Alas as parents you cannot escape the playground when you have a 3 year old, even on holidays! From left to right we enjoyed Nelson Bay Playground, Little Beach Reserve Playground and the Bernie Thompson Park & Playground in Shoal Bay.

Tomaree Head Summit walk

For a fantastic view of the water, you can’t beat the summit at the top of Tomaree Head. I suspected this famously steep walk would be too much for her little 3 year old legs and I was correct, and soon enough my partner was huffing and puffing her up the hill in the pram! Thankfully the path was paved for most of the way, however when we got to the steep stairs part we abandoned our mission and settled for this nice view instead.

Dolphin Discovery Tour

A highlight of our trip to Port Stephens was taking a dolphin watching cruise. Our cruise departed from D’Albora Marina and went for 1.5 hours, and we saw plenty of dolphins and even got to get in the water with them (from the safety of a boom net).

Other activities to do

We had no shortage of things to do during our 4 days in Port Stephens, and completely ran out of time. Next visit we would love to check out Oakvale Wildlife Park (they have splash play too), Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters and Toboggan Hill Park.

Where to Eat

Shoal Bay Country Club

I love this place so much we went for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the course of our stay. For breakfast we ate at Mermaids and sat in a beautiful courtyard to enjoy our eggs and pastries. Lunch time was upstairs on the outdoor patio with water views where we enjoyed salad and pizza, and dinner was inside with hearty servings of steak, ribs and chicken nuggets for the little one. They also have a takeaway pizza option, and as we didn’t want to brave the Saturday night crowds, I called ahead with my order and we ate it on the beach across the road. Heaven!


Another favourite was Bannisters, located in Soldiers Point. Upstairs is the Terrace Bar with pool views which is great for a cocktail and a Mexican restaurant called Julio’s. It’s the place to be when child-free but alas that was not my situation this time!

This time we were downstairs at the newly renovated Cheeky Dog, and it’s the perfect family-friendly place! The front of the restaurant retains its original sport bar charm, and the back is spacious with tables and chairs spilling out to the lawn and children happily wandering around.

Inner Light Tea Rooms

Located at Nelson Head Lighthouse, the Inner Light Tea Rooms is the perfect place for some morning tea and to enjoy the great view of Shoal Bay.

Murray’s Brewing Co

Our final meal was lunch at Murray’s on our way out of Port Stephens. This sprawling estate comprises of a brewery, winery, a high tea pavilion and more! We booked in for Murray’s Bar & Kitchen which is the alfresco dining area located on the edge of the vineyard. Food was a little pricey but tasty and filling, and we enjoyed a glass of wine before our drive home.

The Little Nel Cafe and The Nook Espresso were also on my list but we didn’t have time!

We had such a wonderful trip to Port Stephens and will definitely be returning next year for another family holiday!

Love Swah and family stayed courtesy of Travel Online

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